The next thing I built was the light for it. To keep costs down I decided to try and use SMD led's and build the entire thing myself. I'm not entirely satisfied with the results, and I may switch to cree's in the future, but it does seem to be working for now. Also, I got this idea from a reef SMD light build. I lost the link, but if you search for 2.5 SMD light build you should find it.
I started by laying out my LED's, which turned out to be pointless because I added more later in the build.
Unfortunately, I'm not great at soldering, and these lights are pretty heat sensitive. Because of this, I decided to use a 5 volt power source instead of a 12 volt one, and wire every singe LED in parallel with it's own resistor. As SMD's are actually three diodes in one case, this resulted in lots and lots of soldering.
And to make it even funner, these lights are absolutely tiny.
I used different "tools" to hold down the wires while I attached them to the light
And I tried to make it go faster by doing each task separately, but that just resulted in daunting levels of materials
So I decided to take a break and start working on the fixture. I ordered an aluminum plate and a flat aluminum bar off of amazon. I cut the bar, and then bent each half using a longboard wheel to achieve the proper curvature.
I then used sand paper to brush the arms. I also brushed the plate, because it looks a lot nicer then unbrushed. The bar on the left is brushed, and the one on the right is how it came.
So now I had to get back to the wiring part. I stripped two length of solid copper wire to use as the positive and negative leads. This wasn't a great idea, as the wire was so thick that it conducted heat well and made the soldering process frustrating.
The wire on the outside is the positive, and the one on the inside is the negative.
And finally done!!!!!
As you can see in the picture, there are 23 white 6000 k leds, 4 reds, two greens, and 4 blues. I don't know if the colors are really helping, but I do know that I should have put the colors together in clusters. You can't tell in the tank, but the reflection on the wall behind it is pretty rainbow-y.
Finally I drilled and tapped the arms and the base, and then screwed them together.
I added some acrylic sheets between the wiring and the aluminum to prevent shorts
And finally placed the wiring in the light. I then placed another piece of clear acrylic across the top, held onto the screws with nuts, which protects the lights from water.
And I forgot to take pictures, but the light just sits in two picture holding brackets on the back of the tank. It's not super stable, but it would take a pretty bad hit to knock it off.
I think the color is pretty good, and it seems pretty bright, but even with CO2 my plants have never pearled with this light.